Social justice can be defined in different ways, but the principles providing the foundation/framework include access, equity, and fairness; respect for diversity; participation/engagement; and basic human rights. As an academic discipline and professional practice (field), kinesiology has an important role to play in achieving a socially just society. Social change is about not only disrupting the status quo, but also transformational change and moving toward access, equity, and inclusion. Three narratives reflect upon the ways in which kinesiology and adapted physical activity have disrupted—and must continue to disrupt—the status quo to progress toward a socially just society: reflections of marginality, sport, and social constructs of body and ability; ableism and evolution of adapted physical activity; kinesiology and its responsibility for a sustainable future and socially just society. Although progress has been made, there is still more work to be done.
Achieving a Socially Just Society: Kinesiology’s Role and Responsibility in Disrupting the Status Quo
Karen P. DePauw
Kinesiology: Moving Toward Social Justice?
Diane L. Gill
The theme of the 2021 National Academy of Kinesiology meeting and this special issue, “Kinesiology’s Social Justice Imperative,” suggests we are moving toward social justice. In this paper, I look at kinesiology’s social justice movement over the nearly 100 years of the Academy. More specifically, I consider the representation of women and racial minorities (specifically Black/African Americans) in kinesiology and the Academy throughout our history and social factors related to the changes (or lack thereof) in representation. To move toward social justice, we must learn from that history, highlight the social, and connect with our communities and professionals.
The Human Genome, Physical Activity, Fitness, and Health
A summary of the evidence for a contribution of genetic variability to physical activity–related traits is presented. The availability of a reference human DNA sequence has made it possible to screen individuals and populations for the presence of genomic differences. Even though more than 100 million DNA variants have been identified, human beings share a genomic sequence, which is more than 99% identical. Four major lessons can be derived from ongoing genomic and genetic studies. First, the connection between a genotype and a phenotype is highly complex. Second, the expression of genes is regulated via multiple interacting mechanisms. Third, redundancy and compensatory mechanisms are ubiquitous. Fourth, complex, multifactorial traits are influenced by polygenic systems defined by hundreds and thousands of loci with most alleles characterized by very small effect sizes. The contribution of genetic variability is briefly summarized for human longevity, common chronic diseases, physical activity level, cardiorespiratory fitness in the sedentary state, and in response to exercise programs.
A Call for Social Justice Researchers: Intersectionality as a Framework for the Study of Human Movement and Education
Mara Simon, Jihyeon Lee, Megen Evans, Sheldon Sucre, and Laura Azzarito
This paper advances a socio-educational and critical orientation for the study of human movement to valorize and recenter voicelessness. Representing the subjugation of marginalized people can open up possibilities for transformative research projects invested in the reimagining of equitable and inclusive studies of human movement and education. First, the authors suggest that ongoing intellectual tensions in the field are unproductive; instead, the authors advance a social justice agenda, advocating for an educational, sociocultural, and critical orientation toward human movement. Second, the authors argue for moving beyond the “exercise is medicine” mantra as a dominant, normative framing of kinesiology. Third, drawing from a socio-educational perspective, the authors propose intersectionality as a crucial component of critical race theory to explore and center the significance of health, physical activity, and movement in the lives of Black, Latinx, Native, LGBQ, and transgender groups, people with disabilities, and those who face body weight stigma, from their own viewpoints.
Feeling Black: A Conversation About Justice Imperatives in Education, Disability, and Health
Samuel R. Hodge and Louis Harrison Jr.
The purpose of this paper is to engage the reader in a conversation about justice imperatives in education, disability, and health. As counternarrative to structured majoritarian scholarship and positioned in the expressed intent of the National Academy of Kinesiology’s 90th annual meeting theme of Kinesiology’s Social Justice Imperative, we express feelings about the urgency for social justice in teacher education. To start, we operationally define social justice as advocacy, agency, and action. Next, we recommend the application of critical theoretical frameworks in conceptualizing and conducting research involving historically marginalized and minoritized populations (e.g., African American students). This conversation is theoretically grounded in intersectionality to offer a nuanced understanding of social constructions, such as ethnicity (e.g., African American) and race (e.g., Black), gender, culture, disability, and sociometric positioning regarding justice imperatives in education, disability, and health.
Reflections on a Scholarly Career in Sport and Exercise Psychology: The Influence of Significant Others on the Psychosocial Well-Being of Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults
Thelma S. Horn
This paper is based on a Senior Scholar presentation delivered at the 2020 annual meeting of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity. The paper begins with a summary of the research work completed by the author and coinvestigators in regard to the influences that significant others (parents, peers, and coaches) exert on the psychosocial well-being of individuals in sport and physical activity. In each of these three areas, illustrative research studies are summarized in a predominantly chronological order with a commentary at the end of each section that identifies unanswered questions and suggests future research directions. In the second section, four particular lessons learned by the author over the course of a scholarly career are identified and explained.
Transgender Inclusion in Sport
George B. Cunningham, Risa Isard, and E. Nicole Melton
Questions about transgender individuals’ place in sport persist. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to focus on transgender inclusion in sport. Drawing from varied perspectives, the authors present five reasons for inclusion, basing their arguments on sport as a human right, fairness, gendered notions of athleticism, well-being, and economics. The authors then present a multilevel model for including transgender athletes, coaches, and administrators in sport, identifying factors at the macro-, meso-, and micro-levels of analysis.
Examining Physical Activity for Individuals With Disabilities Through a Social Justice Lens
Martin E. Block and Abby Fines
Many individuals with disabilities are not physically active. Part of inactivity can be explained by the person’s disability. However, inactivity also may be the result of inequities, attitudes, and misconceptions by physical activity (PA) providers that makes it difficult for those with disabilities to successfully participate in sport, recreation, and fitness pursuits. The purpose of this paper is to examine disability through a social justice lens with specific reference to PA. Concepts of ableism, social justice, and how disability is defined will be explored with specific examples from PA. We conclude with suggestions on how to make PA providers aware of ableism, their biases, and how they define and view disability. This awareness will hopefully lead to changes in the willingness of PA providers to welcome those with disabilities into their programs and provide accommodations so that people with disabilities will be able to access PA.
A Systematic Review of the Relationships Between Physical Activity and Sleep in Early Childhood
Christine W. St. Laurent, Katrina Rodheim, and Rebecca M.C. Spencer
The aim of this systematic review was to examine the associations between physical activity and sleep in children aged less than 6 years. Articles were included if participants were primarily aged less than 6 years and study designs were observational or experimental. Study characteristics were extracted, and the Grading Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation framework was used to assess study quality. Thirty-six studies (16 sleep, 16 physical activity, and three fitness outcomes) from 18 countries reported in 29 articles were included. The majority of sleep and physical activity outcome studies reported mixed effects with very low to low quality of evidence. Fitness outcome studies were limited, and therefore, evidence was insufficient. The high prevalence of mixed and null results could be related to study limitations. Importantly, this review points to the critical need for higher quality studies of sleep and physical activity in young children, which would support health recommendations and intervention strategies for healthier child development.
Potential Role of Plyometric Training in the Development of Motor Performance Skills: A Narrative Review
Andrew Sortwell, Michael Newton, Daniel A. Marinho, Jorge Knijnik, and Rodrigo Ramirez-Campillo
Offering children chances to optimize their engagement in physical activities during their life span is one of the major aims of school physical education (PE). To this end, the maximum development of motor performance skills can help primary school children participate in various physical activities throughout their lives. The purpose of this review was to examine the effects of plyometric training activities on motor performance skills of children and the application of plyometrics within the PE setting. Relevant studies on the topics of motor performance skills, plyometrics, athlete development, and motor development in children and adolescents were examined. The paper reveals that plyometric training activities can improve motor performance skills such as running, jumping, and kicking. The literature also suggests that children’s exposure to plyometric exercises may result in an accelerated improvement in primary school PE class. This review concludes with a proposal to enhance children’s motor performance skills using plyometric exercises in primary PE classes.